6 tips for surviving your next virtual media interview

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way news organisations are gathering and presenting stories.

By Samantha Townsend, Senior Consultant 

Due to social distancing regulations, most interviews can no longer be conducted face-to-face. Many journalists and news crews are working remotely, and TV interviews are either being recorded over the phone or conducted virtually via a video conferencing platform like Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

For most people, TV interviews are a nerve-wracking experience. Conducting them remotely makes them significantly more challenging.

Remaining calm and on message, whilst navigating the complexities of video conferencing technology (and ensuring your laundry basket is out of view) requires good preparation and a level head.

Here are six tips for ensuring your next virtual media interview is stress-free and successful.

Be a good ambassador

As the approved spokesperson for your organisation, you have a responsibility to protect your company’s reputation and represent it in the best light possible. Make sure you have a strong knowledge of your organisation’s background, its goals and objectives and any current campaigns or initiatives.

Do your research

Research the background of the journalist that will be interviewing you. What kind of stories or subjects are they interested in? What is their usual interviewing style – casual or formal, gentle or aggressive?

Anticipate the questions

Write down all the questions you think the journalist is most likely to ask and formulate responses. Make sure to include as many challenging questions as possible – it’s best not to be surprised.

Learn your key messages

Key messages are the main points of information you want your audience to hear or read, understand, and remember. Before the interview, write down the key points that you want to deliver and ensure they align with your organisation’s position brand message or vision. Review the key messages and practise, practise, practise. Role-play Q & As with your team before the interview, and try to incorporate the key messages into your responses.

Know the technology

A virtual media interview is now commonplace on news programs, with video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams often used. Before your interview, check your technology to ensure it is working properly (such as downloading the correct software and ensuring your computer meets the right technical specifications) and your internet connection is strong enough for streaming video.

Virtual etiquette

Finally, remember to always look at the camera at the top of your computer – not at the image on the monitor – when you are answering questions. This way it will look like you are looking directly at the audience.  Also, clear the background behind you of any clutter, distractions or personal paraphernalia.

For comprehensive media training, Phillips Group is here to help. Please contact Stephanie Paul at spaul@phillipsgroup.com.au